Documentaries about people and their worlds

Our Summer in Portugal

Through the crisis with surfboard and fado

A documentary by António Cascais

In cooperation with NDR and ARTE

Arte Re

Editorial office: Monika Schäfer

TV Premiere 11th of August 2020, 19.40 Uhr, ARTE

Further broadcasts: 12th of september 2020, 12.45, NDR



A fado singer, a surf instructor, a tuktuk driver: arte:RE accompanies people who worked as solo freelancers in the tourism sector in the Lisbon area and suddenly found themselves faced with nothing when the whole country was put into a lockdown in March 2020 because of the corona virus. How do they experience the crisis summer of 2020 in Portugal's capital?

Fado singer Henriqueta Baptista, 66, worked every evening in a fado restaurant in the old town quarter of Alfama before the lockdown. She collected 50 € per evening for this. Dinner was free of charge. After a three-month compulsory break, the fado restaurants in Lisbon will reopen in mid-June. Henriqueta Baptista breathes again. But she has to realize: the "business model" Fado restaurant has partially collapsed: There are far fewer foreign customers. Most of the time, the restaurant where she performs remains completely empty. Henriqueta goes there anyway. Fado is not only her livelihood, fado is her life. And: "Fado will also survive this crisis", she says.

Surf instructor Pedro Carvalho, 42, also had to keep his school and shop closed for three months during the lockdown. There was no help from the state during that time. When he reopens his school at the end of June, he has to realize that no more foreign tourists are coming. Nevertheless: he can teach some children from the surrounding area at special conditions. This summer he expects 70 percent less income than in previous years. He has money worries, but also much more time for himself and his sport.

With tuktuk driver, Hugo Samora, 45, we drive through summery Lisbon. The Portuguese capital is empty this summer. No comparison to the lively tourist metropolis he has experienced in recent years. Hugo Samora doesn't know whether and how to continue. "We were naive, put everything on the tourist map and lost everything. Will we see light at the end of the tunnel? Or will I have to give up?" 

Our protagonists talk about their fears, but also about their hopes and small successes in the summer of 2020. Many people who had fully bet on tourism are worried about the future.


And yet, at the beginning of March, a new record number of visitors had been set for Portugal. Last year 27 million foreigners spent more than 16 billion euros there. They made a major contribution to Portugal's upswing, a country that a decade ago was on the verge of bankruptcy. This year the government wanted to achieve a budget surplus.

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